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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter December 1, 2014

Der Theatermann Otto Brahm ein widerwilliger Jude

Jeanette R. Malkin
From the journal Aschkenas


In the history of modern theatre, Otto Brahm is canonized mainly as the founder of the Freie Bühne (1889), the first Naturalist stage in Germany, which – as a private society – produced censored plays by Ibsen and Hauptmann and opened the way for the general acceptance of socially-oriented contemporary plays on the German stage. Brahm began as an influential theatre critic who, throughout the 1880s, fought against the popular theatre which was dominated by the star-system and by French-influenced light comedies. Instead, he advocated those new plays – especially by Ibsen – that presented contemporary society in positivist detail and with a social-activist critique. Brahm maintained his faith and focus on such plays when he became director of the Berlin Deutsches Theater (1894–1904) and, later, of the Lessing-Theater (1904–1912). Throughout, he produced a quality of theatre that turned Berlin into a famous theatre capital. Brahm ’s Jewish identity has rarely been studied, mainly because Brahm himself left so little witness to it, despite the growing political and racial anti-Semitism that existed during his life. This identity, which at the time was always significant, played a considerable role both in his personal life and in his extraordinary career. This article traces this role, as well as Brahm’s complex relationship to his Judaism, with the goal of re-inscribing Brahm ’s history into a Jewish context.

Online erschienen: 2014-12-1
Erschienen im Druck: 2014-12-1

© De Gruyter 2014